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Posted January 10, 2014
I received a free copy of Red + Blue in exchange for an honest review. For the most part, I found the book to be enjoyable. The main characters are compelling and mostly believable. There were some things, however, that kept me from completely enjoying the story. The first is really minor when it comes to the actual story, but having lived in Minnesota for many years and the Midwest for most of my life, I found it very distracting and annoying. Ben's characterization by himself and others as a country bumpkin, redneck, etc. doesn't make sense. He's from a small town in Minnesota, not a farm in Alabama or deep woods Kentucky. As the story progresses, there are fewer "country" references and more "Midwestern" references so it became less of an annoyance. Now, on to the actual story.
The story revolves around Ben, who has moved from Minnesota to San Francisco to take a job as an actuary trainee, and Adrian, the firm's CEO. The book is divided into three parts Part One/Red is narrated by Ben, Part Two/Blue is narrated by Adrian, and Part Three/Red + Blue is in third person. At first I found the switch from first to third person disconcerting, but it didn't take long to get used to it.
We start by getting to know Ben and following his adventures as a young gay man in San Francisco. Ben finds himself increasing attracted to his boss Adrian who seems to take a liking to him. The problem is that Adrian is straight, has a girlfriend (who happens to be Ben's immediate superior and doesn't much care for him), and he's the boss. Bens attempts to maintain a friendship with Adrian are hampered by his friend and sometimes bedmate Jason who is a salesman at the company and Laurel who is Ben's newly appointed superior.
Aside from the whole "country bumpkin" thing, I don't really have any complaints about Ben or the way he was portrayed. His tendency to listen to Jason, get drunk, and make bad decisions (usually in that order) did start to wear thin and found myself getting annoyed with him like I would with a real person, so I guess that's a sign that he was well written.
Then we move on to Adrian, As is implied in the part of the book, Adrian is not gay. I was expecting to find out Adrian was in denial about his sexuality, this is not the case. Adrian has made a conscious decision to stay in the closet. I had difficulty understanding Adrian's reasons for taking over and staying with the company and remaining" so deep in the closet he's nearly in Narnia". It isn't until we almost reach the end that we are given a plausible reason for his remaining at the company. Adrian is the classic child who is trying to win a parent's love and approval while at the same time resenting that parent. Adrian's interactions with his father are complex and contradictory as I imagine they are for children who find themselves in similar situations. My biggest problem with story was with Laurel's character and with Adrian's dealings with her. Laurel is one-dimensional and dislikable to the point of not making sense. She seems to want a romantic relationship with Adrian but she acts in ways that would sabotage such a relationship. She seems to want to do well at her job yet she disregards and undermines Adrian who is supposed to be the boss. She seems to want to please Adrian's father but she even lies and breaks promises to him. I get that we aren't supposed to like her but it would have made a much more interesting and believable read if she had a redeeming quality or two. Even more baffling than Laurel running around like the spawn of Satan is Adrian's dealings with her. He's supposed to be in charge but he never once calls her on her behavior, even when she berates a secretary makes her cry for delivering a letter addressed to Adrian directly to him rather than magically divining their contents and informing Laurel that it had arrived. He seems to have no trouble reprimanding others for bad behavior so it makes no sense to me that he would let her do whatever she pleased even if she was appointed by his father. Also, his continuing to "date" her when it becomes apparent that she thinks they have a romantic future seems counter to Adrian's character.
As the story progresses, Ben who now realizes that he is in love takes Adrian who privately acknowledges his attraction to Ben on a canoe trip through the boundry waters. We briefly, meet Ben's family and get some insight into why Ben felt the need to distance himself from them. Happily, they do not come off as homophobic but rather overprotective. There are hints that Ben's brother Chris might be in the closet as well but not enough time is given to the subject to know for sure (I suspect a sequel). Adrian's change in attitude on the trip was rather abrupt and a little mean-spirited in my opinion but we had to get there somehow, I guess. From this point until the end everything seems a bit rushed to me. We get the romance followed by the inevitable conflict. The resolution in particular all felt like more time could have been devoted to it. My last complaint is about the final love scene and where/how it ends. Through the course of the book the author shared every type of encounter except the one that Ben and Adrian both seemed to be most anticipating.
Posted January 4, 2014
3.5 stars. Interesting book and tough for me to rate. The plot has been pretty well hashed out I think so I'll go easy there and stick to impressions.
Lately I've become fond of the practice of splitting a book in pieces and telling each piece from a different POV. I helps you get to know the character better. And this is what the author did here. What amused me early on was the setting of a work place, an insurance company of all things - but it worked. Ben was a typical 24 year old. He has problems at work and awkward moments with his boss. He likes but gets frustrated with his party boy best friend. He wants to pass his tests to succeed at his job but finds reason not to study. He loves and misses his family but doesn't wan to live with them. Ben is the Red of the story, the name in honor of his hair.
The pacing moves slow and steady. Many scenes are short but tight. When the POV shifts to Adrian, we go back in time a bit and get Adrian's view of some events. That wasn't as frustrating as I thought. The events are told with a different focus and the author doesn't retell anything we learned with Ben. Since Ben is an employee and Adrien is his rich boss, it makes sense that they'd see and interpret different things from the same event.
Adrien is the Blue and was tougher to warm up to. He put himself back in the closet to manage the West Coast Division and by keeping himself on a leash, he's tough to know. As frustrating at it was at times, Adrien has a reason for being in the closet and the way he was. The reasons may not resonate with everyone but the reasons were real and they're valid. I was very happy to see him dig out of his hole and find himself. I'm not completely sure though why he's Blue though.
The story dragged in a few places. I liked the slow build of the relationship, but the trip to Minnesota took way to long and felt out place with the rest of the pacing. I also felt the ending was a bit too pat. Considering what had broken them up, I'd expected a little more in fixing the relationship but they fell right back together easy as pie.
Overall I enjoyed the story and am glad I had a chance to read it.
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Posted January 4, 2014
Red+Blue. This is a strong book. Two narrators, Red and Blue. “Red” is Ben, a 24 year-old actuary trainee: tall boyish redhead from Minnesota. “Blue” is Adrian, the 35 year-old CEO of the insurance company: melancholy sophisticate who struggles with loneliness and alcoholism.
The book is done in a fresh, unusual way. Red/Ben describes his first year in San Francisco as a new hire at Adrian’s company. He gets used to his job, he studies for his certification exams, he works out, he deals with exasperating sex-buddy Jason, and he gets infatuated with his supposedly straight boss Adrian. This is fascinating, especially the corporate environment in the financial disaster year of 2008. At the year mark, his first-person narrative stops.
Blue/Adrian takes over and describes the same year from his first-person viewpoint. It could have been too repetitive, but it isn’t. The interactions of Ben and Adrian are only part of Adrian’s life. They are framed to be very different from how Ben saw them. Then there is much filled in about Adrian that Ben does not know: his loving Italian grandparents, his homophobic father, his fake girlfriend Laurel, and his reasons for needing to stay in the closet.
At the year mark, Adrian’s first-person narrative stops. The story continues in both third-person viewpoints with Ben and Adrian aware of their attraction for each other. Ben and Adrian go on a canoeing trip together. Unfortunately, this trip creates a mushy slack in what had been a really tight narrative. Too much ogling each other and discussing the past. Some hurt feelings and moping over small misunderstandings. Some sex and more canoeing.
Afterward, the men must find their way through Adrian’s situation with thinking he has to stay in the closet and break up with Ben for his own good. Somehow the author manages not to make Adrian too much of a martyr. As his dilemma with his father gets revealed, it becomes more believable and complex. Overall, the story seemed to go on too long. It didn't quite recapture the huge potential it had before the canoe trip. But I liked both Ben and Adrian. Their story has substance: real setting, background, jobs, and plot. The characters grow and change, earning their happy ending. (Free copy received in exchange for an honest review.)
Posted January 2, 2014
(This book was received free in offer of an honest review)
For the most part, I enjoyed this book…however, a few items kept me from rating it higher. My opinions are of course mine. This review contains a basic synopsis of the story and may contain spoilers though I tried to keep out the fun stuff.
Part 1 (Red) tells the story from Ben’s point of view. I liked the time-line effect to keep the story moving. Ben tells his story of coming and working for Adrian Sutherland (Blue). He talks about his relationships with his part-time lover Jason, his friend Mick, his co-workers and his boss.
Part 2 (Blue) is told from Adrian’s point of view and starts off ok with a little background info on his character and explains his “blue” reference. Here we start back to the beginning of the story only from Adrian’s view. I would have preferred an integrated POV from the start. We learn that Jason is HIV positive and possibly Ben too. The author choose not to really deal with Ben’s emotional ride of possible infection at this point in the story and I thought that that was a poor choice when there was perfect opportunity.
Part 3 (Red + Blue) joins the two protagonists together as they start to work together on a project presentation. There was more opportunity for comedic moments, but the set-up was fun with the dress-up of Adrian. During the convention the story moves to Adrian’s grandparents’ vineyard and Adrian fighting his growing desire for Ben. Jason then tells Ben that Adrian is gay so of course the next move is the seduction. Ben and Adrian travel to Minnesota for a canoeing trip with Ben being the guide. Things predictably heat up and then the crash and burn before returning to work. Adrian is forced by his father to let Ben go from his job and continues to keep Ben out of his life. Author finally chooses to have Ben confront his demons as his second HIV test approaches. Upon getting the all clear, Ben finally confronts Adrian only to be turned away again. Ben “walks” away just as Adrian decides that he loves Ben and proceeds to change his life and come out of the closet. Loved the ending and the HEA.
There were plenty of Red and Blue references throughout the story, some a little too obvious, like a shirt or rug color, and Adrian’s first line of” being blue.” Others were subtle like flame-colored hair. The HIV (red/blue) theme was heavily prominent from insurance policies to deaths to infections. Emotional rollercoasters in the main characters never quite brought tears to my eyes though.
I definitely enjoyed reading this author’s story and look forward to other works.
Posted December 29, 2013
I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
[Red+Blue was an enjoyable read, by dividing the book up in three parts made it much different than other books.
The first part is all about Ben while I liked him; some of the risks that he took bothered me. His relationship with Jason was very important to the book, but made me want to smack him upside the head and ask what was he thinking. However I can relate to the excitement of being out of your own and experiencing new things.
Part two was about Adrian, as the boss' son, he had to make huge sacrifices to keep high risk policies a part of the insurance company. While I did not like Adrian as much as Ben, I understood the choices that he made. These choices hurt himself and his former lover, making him even more closed off to happiness and love.
Part three was about both Ben and Adrian and their relationship. The choices and mistakes the made in the first two part effects the interaction between each other. Both have to ask huge questions and figure out if love is worth it.
I look forward to reading more of author’s books and hope that she updates us on Ben and Adrian.
Posted December 26, 2013
I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Red + Blue is an opposite attracts book in every sense of the phase. Ben is in his mid-20s. He is from a small town in Minnesota and grew up in a middle class environment. He lives his life openly gay. Adrian is from a privileged family, is in his mid-30s and is deeply in the closet. Adrian’s family owns the company Ben works for and he is Ben’s boss. These two guys come together and help each other with their own personal troubles.
Ben is a great character. He is a typically person in their 20s who is starting to live their life on their own. Ben is apprenticing as an auditor for an insurance company in San Francisco. He loves his job and is certainly taking advantage of the city. He appears to be very confident and for the most part he is, but he still desires the approval of his family who continues to treat him as a kid.
Adrian’s character was good, but not my favorite. He is a typical closeted character. His father pressures him into being in the closet. This caused Adrian the loss of his first love, his freedom and happiness. It was frustrating to read about his character because he does have loving and accepting grandparents and friends who would help him out. What I liked most about Adrian was his sweet and caring nature. I loved his interaction with Ben and his staff. He has everyone’s best interests, besides himself, at heart.
The book set-up was interesting. The first 15% of the book was from Ben’s point of view then the next 15% was from Adrian’s. Each point of view overlaps the other, but it was not repetitive. The rest of the book is from both points of view. It was great to see what each character thought and felt.
The overall story was great. Adrian helps Ben stay focus on his career and not fall into trouble being young and living in San Francisco. Ben helps Adrian to realize that happiness is worth taking risks for. At first I did not realize the age gap between the two characters, but once I did it didn’t bother me. It was extremely well written. My only true issue with the book was I felt it just ended without any real conclusion. Yes, the ending was happy, but there was little closure. Did it take away from the whole story….no, but I would have liked to have something more.
Once again A.B. Gayle comes through with another outstanding story.
Posted December 22, 2013
Red+Blue (Opposites Attract) A.B. Gayle
Review from Jeannie Zelos Book reviews.
NB: ARC supplied via Goodreads and author
It's no secret that I love a good romance whether hetero or gay. Good being the key, not one of those very simple, sweet, sickly A meets B, they fall in love and live happily ever after. I do need the HEA part, but I need the journey to be rocky and problematic, if it makes me tearful then its a job done romance....
Ms Gayle is an author new to me, but she's going to be one whose work I’ll certainly look out for in future. She delivered all my needs in this book, and more. I had emotion, angst, love and sensuality all wrapped up in an excellent story. I like the idea of two people from opposite backgrounds coming together too, and it worked really well here. You'd think they have nothing in common, that their interests would be so divergent they'd have trouble communicating, and yet the way the author gets them into situations where they're together they mange to d find common ground. Then there's the rich boss, student employee conundrum. I'd have guessed at Adrian being more dominant, and yet we see Ben in situations where he's confident taking the lead, and showing just what a strong personality he has.
I loved Ben, we meet him first, and he's left his backwoods family and business behind to move to the city and his actuarial career, in a family owned Agency. One of the reasons he chose this firm was because of their open policy for minorities that can't always get insurance elsewhere including gays. Ben's lovely, very honest, open, no back biting or malice in him, he's one of those people who try to get along with everyone simply because that’s his nature. He's out, loud and proud, but after his first fun foray into the citys gay areas, he really wants something more than the no-strings, casual, friends with benefits relationship he has with Jason. Its his boss Adrian that really attracts him, but he's the subject of dreams only as Ben assumes he's straight.
Turns out Adrian isn't though, and yes, he has the hots for Ben, but he's deeply in the closet. Really, really deep. Like so many families his father thinks its something he can put aside – calls it a “gay tendency”, and makes it a condition that Adrian leaves all that behind now he's working for and is CEO of the family firm.
Its a terrific story, packed with so many problems that must happen in real life. Jason's family who know he's gay, but are wealthy enough to ignore it, and just hope he keeps reasonably on the rails. Ben's family who know he's Gay, and are a close knit group and worry about him. Ben's father died and his four older brothers have always acted in his stead, so as Ben says its like having four dads....and they all want what's best for little bro, for him to be happy and woe betide anyone who threatens that. Then there's poor Adrian, in a position so many people must find themselves, with a nature that's one way, and a family pressing for the opposite. Without alienating them and causing huge repercussions for the firm he's trapped. Why is it that in a so called “free” society homosexuality still causes such a stir in the press, with all those snide slurs and suggestions? Its almost like the Victorian attitude I think – the “do anything but don't get caught” attitude. Sad isn't it when a persons happiness is less important than a families public standing :(
I loved the way Ms Gayle weaves all these problems into a story that had me engrossed to the last page, the little day to day incidences, the things that got me thinking “ but that's unfair “ while knowing that's still the way it is in real life.
The characters were great too – we see things from Ben's POV and then from Adrian’s, and that works really well as we can see that what one thinks about the other isn't necessarily true. I loved the way they were so different people and yet found common ground, and felt so much for Ben with his “lets just do it, it'll work out somehow” philosophy against Adrian’s think it through, look at all the repercussions and see what’s right for everyone else and not himself caution. That makes it sound like Ben was selfish – he's not, its just that he's prepared to stand up for what he believes, but having had family support its easier for him, whereas Adrian has been told all his life that he can't be open about his feelings, and that marriage and family is his duty to his father.
Its so emotional in parts, had me on the edge of tears, and just so happy when things go right, its a perfect balance of love and good story. There is sex in the book, but not too much, much more just sensuality through touches, glances, brushes against each other – that sort of stuff. So often books just wade into all-out, in-your-face, graphic sex and think that’s enough – I wish there were more like this one which has a great, solid storyline, with sex and love as part of it, and not dominating it.
Stars: well, after all that how could it be less than five :)
Posted August 27, 2013
No text was provided for this review.